At TEDxVienna 2017, fashion photographer David Jay presented ‘Humanity lives beneath our scars’ not only sharing a deeply personal project but also offering a glimpse into his soul. The 1000 participants of the conference at the Volkstheater rewarded him with a standing ovation.
For two decades, David Jay photographed for renowned magazines like Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and many more. What remained after 20 years? Nothing but doubt. “I began to hate my pictures. I thought anyone could take a better picture than me. Nothing convinced me. So, I stopped photographing.” He lived right by the beach in Sydney and enjoyed the view of the ocean until, out of nowhere, he lost the meaning of life overnight and plunged into a severe crisis, almost breaking him.
‘The Beauty of Scars’
In the darkest phase of his life, a friend and model approached him, asking for her last picture – she was 29 and had breast cancer. This encounter taught him that you are worth it. That a person’s strength and allure don’t radiate from the surface but that beauty lies much deeper. ‘One last picture’ – David Jay began photographing women, men, and children who stand on the brink and don’t have to decide whether but how to live. „This last picture became a life picture. A picture of the lifeline – a picture that reminds us that we existed.” His compelling portraits depict a physical reality of illness and injury that most people never see.
The Reality of the Virtual World
In our virtual world, we encounter mainly a kind of ‘perfected’ people every day. With little effort, digital technology enables a perfect staging, which the whole world should see.
„Yet, this only serves to distance us further and further from our humanity. To distance us from what we long for, what we love, and to accept who we really are.”
In our fast-paced times and the perfectly staged digital flood of images, we find less and less room for mindfulness. It’s high time for an update. Let’s take an example from the good old Polaroid: it takes time to develop. Polaroid – the staging of imperfection, with the feeling of deceleration included and always good for a surprise. Let’s not continuously digitize our lives but live more analog from time to time. That would do us all some good.
gil com | creative identity and beyond
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Creative Planner, Communication Psychologist in Training, Systemic Business Coach, Facilitator, Mentor, Sparring Partner, VR Expert (XR-C)